Starmer would create policy delivery unit and slimmed-down 'executive cabinet'

Executive cabinet would make 'most important strategic decisions' in a Labour government
Photo: Gary Calton/Alamy Stock Photo

A powerful new policy delivery unit reporting directly to the prime minister would hold departments to account under a Labour government, under plans being considered by Sir Keir Starmer.

The Labour leader is considering appointing a senior business figure to run the unit, which features heavily in his plans to overhaul government if the party wins the next general election, according to The Times.

The opposition leader is reportedly drawing up plans for an “executive cabinet” that would make the “most important strategic decisions”, including setting budgets and spending priorities ahead of presenting them to cabinet.

It would include the so-called “gang of four” comprised of Starmer; shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves; shadow deputy PM Angela Rayner; and shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Pat McFadden. McFadden, who was political secretary to Tony Blair before serving in Gordon Brown’s cabinet, is set for a role as Starmer’s “enforcer”, pushing through his priorities across government departments.

An executive cabinet is among the reforms recommended by an Institute for Government commission today. In its final report, the Commission on the Centre of Government said that while cabinet is "constitutionally important", it is "too big, and the most successful prime ministers have, in their different ways, used a core group of ministers to make strategic decisions".

A series of “mission boards” would meanwhile focus on delivering Labour’s key pledges. Business leaders and other experts from outside government could sit on the boards alongside civil servants and ministers.

In an interview with the Economist last year, Starmer described the missions as his future government’s “north star”. Launched in February 2023, the five missions cover economic growth; clean energy; health and reform; neighbourhood policing; and education and childcare.

A source told The Times that Starmer and his chief of staff, former civil servant Sue Gray, wanted to introduce the reforms quickly but to get the civil service on side. “This is not the same as coming in like Steve Hilton or Dominic Cummings pledging to tear everything up,” they said, referring to the controversial political advisers who worked for David Cameron and Boris Johnson respectively.

“The plans may end up being quite radical but the focus will be on creating structures that deliver the outcomes you want rather than doing things for the sake of [it],” the source said.

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